I recently read The Shadow of the Almighty,a biography of Jim Elliot. Along with four others, he gave his life to bring the gospel to a tribe of indiginous Indians in Ecuador known as the Auca. A second book Through the Gates of Splendour, follows the story from Jim Elliot and Pete Fleming’s departure for Ecuador. The following extract talks about their arrival at the mission station of Shandia.
In Shandia, Jim and Pete became full-fledged missionaries for the first time. They had come to reach the Quichuas with the Word of God, a task for which they were prepared but could accomplish only if the gained the Quichuas’ confidence and love. So by living among them, sharing in their lives and thus laying the foundations of mutual trust they hoped to open the minds and hearts of the Indians to the Christian message.
When I think about writing the narrative of the gospel in my time, I think this idea of living among the people, gaining their trust and love, building foundations of mutual trust and respect is so foundational. Most of the time I’ve been around church evangelism has been a bold declaration of truth, and I’m not decrying that at all. The problem was always that we were dashing out into the world, doing a bit of outreach, and then rushing back to the safety of the church. The world usually got the blame for the lack of response but maybe it was our failure to connect in any meaningful way that was the real problem.
To live among the people is far more difficult. Perhaps the reason overseas missionaries appear to have more success stories to tell us than we have to tell them is because of this simple truth-they live among the people.
I like servant evangelism because it gives me the chance to live among the people. An opportunity to serve them, to share with them, to be an example of God’s love and generosity to them in the hope that this will eventually open a way for them to discover the full extent of God’s love for them. It’s one step into the world of an outward focused life, maybe the first step into writing the story of God’s love for my generation.
Perhaps we write the story best when we live the story among the people Jesus misses most.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
I found a whole group of blog posts I wrote for another site. I thought they were gone forever, but I found them via Google Reader. At least I found some of them. Reading them again was interesting.
For me, the process of writing for a blog is part of developing the narrative of my journey with God. It's the unfolding of a story that is mostly unseen and yet somehow revealed as you go back through journal entries, book reviews, blog posts and papers.
I'll re-post some of the entries, maybe I'll edit them a little bit too. Some of the links might not work and some of the dates may not tie up, for example where it says, "I've just finished reading" could well mean "I read this 3 years ago."
To get started, here's a piece I wrote titled "Writing the ongoing story"